I was vulnerable as a child (we all are), I remained vulnerable through adolescence and into adulthood and I am still vulnerable. I am proud to be be vulnerable. Being vulnerable is being open to truth, not only my truth but a universal truth.
The universal truth is we are all vulnerable. Listen to Brene Brown speak on TED about vulnerability and you will see why.
Because we are mortal beings, vulnerability is a universal feature of our human condition. Our suffering, injury, illness, death, heartbreak and loss are experiences that define our existence and loom as constant threats. To be human is to be excruciatingly vulnerable. Using the adverb excruciatingly is a conscious choice. Fellow writers will know we learn to avoid using adverbs in our writing, but I choose to use excruciatingly to emphasise how painful and distressing feeling vulnerable can be.
It is natural for humans to avoid suffering and so we deny our vulnerability. “We’re fine,” we say when our truth points to the opposite. No, we are not fine, we are vulnerable. Of course, to have a temporary sense of power over all events and circumstances, is one of the privileges of being human and especially of being youthfully human. As we mature and grow older, we understand this privilege must be surrendered as we must surrender youth and as we succumb to ill health, accidents and experience the loss of loved ones. After all, ultimately we have no choice over these things.
So, why not reveal your vulnerability now? Try it and you will be rewarded with richer, more fulfilling relationships.
What happens when we risk showing another person our vulnerability? We become real and being real is wholly healthy. Why? Because we can be ourselves and being ourselves is a lot easier and less stressful than keeping up a pretence and wearing a mask. Hiding and pretending can be emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually exhausting (I know!) and the more you allow your essence to mature and acknowledge your vulnerability, the more you will attract authentic people into your life and create a network of supportive, real friends.
Now, what lessons are there here that can be applied to our writing?
If you search the how-to-write section of any bookstore, you might conclude good stories are all about craft, plot, character, suspense, dialogue, etc. Of course these things matter but what I believe matters more is an author’s ability to be vulnerable on the page; to be open, daring, unabashed and unashamed; to be fearless and willing to blow away any taboo and to resist heeding any notions of embarrassment.
As Brene Brown says in her TED talk, to be vulnerable is not a weakness, rather, it’s “our most accurate measure of courage.”
My urge to be a writer is a measure of my courage, but more it is a generous act at its core. I want to share my story to give a reader an insight into a world they haven’t experienced. This is my gift, the gift of vulnerability, of being human.
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